It's when you don't win that you learn things about yourself.
- Sasha Cohen
Knowing that Sunday was my last day in Los Angeles with my daughter, Ally, we decided to end our mother/daughter visit with the evening service at Hillsong LA, one of 12 Hillsong churches around the world.
Definitely the right decision. However, it seemed everybody in LA made that same decision.
We arrived right on time for the service on Hill Street in downtown LA, and when we walked into the historic theater that currently houses Hillsong LA services, we were informed the balcony was already full, and there was standing room only downstairs.
By the time we made our way through the auditorium, people were standing all around every open doorway. It was packed!
My first thought was, I don’t want to stand the entire service…we can just watch it online from the comfort of Ally’s apartment. Plus, it was hot with so many bodies packed into that place and getting warmer by the moment.
Just as I was about to whisper to Ally that we should go, I thought, How many times have I stood an entire concert just to hear one of my favorite bands? How many times have I stood an entire high school or college basketball game in a hot gymnasium, cheering on the home team in a heated battle? But now, I’m actually considering leaving this amazing time of worship simply because I’m a bit inconvenienced?
The worship drew me in and held me captive. Before I knew it, Ally and I had our hands stretched toward heaven, singing: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…” To see that many people–of all ages and different races–worshipping the one true God, singing, “My soul will rest in Your embrace. For I am Yours, and You are mine…” was an experience I’ll never forget.
To make it even more awesome, the actual Hillsong band who recorded that song led worship Sunday night.
As worship concluded, we were escorted into a makeshift overflow area where we watched the remainder of the service on a large TV. Again, I thought, “We should go. I’m so thankful we stayed for the worship part, but we can go ahead and slip out now and watch the rest of the service at home, which would be kind of like the overflow room, only two blocks over in Ally’s apartment.”
But we didn’t leave. We stayed, and I am so thankful we did.
Not only did Pastor Ben Houston preach a sermon based on my favorite worship song that we’d just sung along with the band who recorded it, but also during the “meet and greet” portion of the service, I shook hands with a young man that turned out to be one of those divine appointments.
“Is this your first time here?” he asked.
“No, our second,” I shared. “I love it! But it’s my last time here for a while because I fly back to Indiana tomorrow. Just here visiting my daughter.”
“What brings you to LA besides your daughter?” he asked.
“Well, I am a writer and one of my clients lives out here,” I explained.
“You’re a writer?” he asked, eyes growing wide. “I can’t believe it! Can I talk with you after service?”
“Sure,” I said.
After the close of the service, I did meet with this 20-something young man who began pouring his heart out to me. He shared how he had just finished seminary and felt compelled to write a book on dealing with depression because of his previous battles with the disease, but that he had been in “writer’s block mode” for the past six months.
“Does this ever happen to you?” he asked.
“Absolutely,” I shared, “but you know what is usually the problem? I realize that I’ve been spending so much time focusing on the message that I’ve neglected the Messenger. Put your focus back on God–the giver of the words–and the writing will start flowing again.”
And I added, “If God gave you this message to write, then he will equip you to write it. Just trust him in the process.”
His whole countenance changed.
“I have been struggling so much with it,” he said. “I told God yesterday that if he didn’t send me someone to confirm this call to write, that I was walking away from it. This is so amazing.”
Yes it was.
Because God is amazing all the time, if we’ll only slow down long enough to notice.
I learned two important lessons on Sunday. First, don’t ever be too busy or too distracted or too inconvenienced to stop and worship God. He will use that time to fill you up, heal your hurt places, and refresh you.
And, second, never be in such a hurry that you miss an opportunity for God to use you. What an honor! You get to be Jesus with skin, on assignment for the Kingdom, living and loving for God.
Pray this with me: “Father, help me to slow down long enough that I might worship you daily. Lord, send people my way so that I might love on them as you would. And, help me not to miss any Kingdom opportunity that you put before me. I love you, Lord, and I am so thankful that you do lead me…and that I am yours and you are mine. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.”
Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, with more than 60 books and 1,000 articles for newspapers and magazines to her name. She was won several SELAH Awards (best children’s book and book of the year for God Knows You in 2014 and best children’s book for My Big Book of Prayers in 2012), and her book Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was named a Family Christian Bookstores Premiere Pick in 2006. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.
Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff. They have two college-aged daughters, Abby and Allyson, as well as a small petting zoo. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys cheering on the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies and the LA Kings. Find out more about Michelle at her website.